Three Reasons On-Hold Music Is So Bad

Three reasons on-hold music sucksOn-hold music is to music as Velveeta is to cheese, but we never knew exactly why on-hold music sucks until recently investigated. It found that the culprits for bad on-hold music were purveyor inattention, inadequate tech, and crappy files.

Its article explained that most recorded music is not produced to sound good over telephone speakers, speakers that are programmed for the range of the human voice. Therefore, a good bass line for the Black Keys or the highest register of Mariah Carey could be swallowed whole by your telephone.Another reason for the tinny sound and distortion is that the audio files aren't optimized for the telephone. This could lead to a problem called clipping, "when the frequency overloads the system," resulting in pops and crackles punctuating the music.

The final problem is the fact that many companies just don't give a hoot about how they sound on hold. How many times have you experienced the disconnect between the message that "Your call is very important to us" and the sense that you could wait on the phone until the Earth falls into the Sun and still no one would answer?

The same type of inattention leads companies to use on-hold music that is inappropriate to the business, poorly performed and recorded, and sloppily integrated into the system.

Bad on-hold music is like a house with rusting cars on blocks in the front yard: the customer's impression of your company is going to be negative before they even step in the front door. Wouldn't you think more companies would want to take a bit of care with their on-hold message and begin to cultivate a good image instead?

Check out some entertaining examples of bad on-hold messages on

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